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Queens Chronicle

Hurdle$ for Kissena meditation garden

Parks rule raises cost to $1 million

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Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 2:20 pm, Thu Dec 13, 2012.

A proposed meditation garden in Flushing’s Kissena Corridor Park has stalled as a group advocating its creation is slowly pushing to meet funding demands.

The Kissena Corridor Park Conservancy held an annual fundraising breakfast on Saturday at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel to raise money for the garden with Comptroller and former councilman John Liu making an appearance. But the conservancy is falling well short of the $1 million needed to bring the garden to fruition.

The group’s president, Chuck Wade, said the group hoped it raised $1,000 over the weekend, adding to the over-$10,000 the conservancy already has.

Wade admitted the fundraising goal is lofty, but it’s a long-term one.

“We just keep trying,” he said. “Persistence will pay off.”

The group hopes the garden will occupy a half-acre site in Kissena Corridor Park at 56th Avenue and 141st Street, by New York Hospital Queens’ radiation oncology building.

The garden is designed as a relaxation hub for patients, caregivers and hospital staff, as a place to kick back in a natural setting.

Wade originally hoped work on the meditation garden would begin last year, on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack. But a shifting financial target and lack of funds have moved progress to a snail’s pace.

The garden itself would cost between $375,000 and $500,000, with the remaining sum needed to meet a Parks Department requirement which mandates future upkeep of the garden be funded ahead of time.

“If you have the funds in there to build, the Parks Department insists on you to have more money,” Wade said.

The conservancy received a $2,000 boost from Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) last year, a donation he cut from his councilmanic paycheck as part of an annual ritual of donating his city salary to local community groups. Wade said Koo had to earmark the cash to ensure it doesn’t end up in a general pool for Parks Department funding.

“It will be a wonderful asset to have a peaceful meditation garden for residents to enjoy, collect their thoughts or just relax from the everyday stresses of life,” Koo said last year.

Wade hopes the neighboring hospital will get more involved. NYHQ officials sent a general letter of support to the conservancy for their efforts.

The group is mulling building the garden in stages, as funding rolls in, Wade said. Regardless, his view has stretched to the long term.

“If it takes us five years, ten years, whatever it may take, I don’t know,” he said. “We are enthusiastic about it. We are going to keep trying.”

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